Top-shelf food products stay fresh and tasty underground
The food service gurus at Paris Brothers have always been known for thinking outside the box. The company was named the USDA’s 2011 National Small Business Contractor of the Year, and has developed a reputation for being on the cutting edge. That said, Paris Brothers turned more than a few heads when it moved operations underground back in 2000…
Paris Brothers distributes and sells more than 4,500 items to retail grocers, grocery warehouses, food service providers, and national food distributors. The company also handles “specialty” goods that not only require proper storage and handling, but also the understanding of marketing and selling products of artisan quality. Product development, distribution, sales and marketing are all part of the wide breadth of services Paris Brothers provides. But there’s more.
Paris Brothers operates Parisi Artisan Coffee, which allows customers to bring specialty coffee closer to specialty roasters in the middle of the U.S., and a unique “cave-aged” cheese operation that helps some of the country’s best cheese makers create world-class, aged cheeses sold by gourmet food retailers like Dean & DeLuca. And Paris Brothers’ sister company, Ground Freight Expeditors (GFE), provides complete logistics services.
All of this happens from a cost-effective, naturally climate- and humidity-controlled, easily expandable, and ENERGY STAR-certified facility 100 feet below the surface of Kansas City, Mo. at SubTropolis, the world’s largest underground business complex.
Find out why Joe Paris says Hunt Midwest SubTropolis is the ideal place for his foodservice operation…
CASE STUDY: Paris Brothers – An Innovative Leader in the Foodservice Industry
Overview: Ever evolving, Paris Brothers is a Kansas City-based, family-owned business launched in 1983. Celebrating its 20th year in business, Paris Brothers has become recognized as an innovative leader in foodservice and logistics.
Background: While Paris Brothers distributes and sells nearly 2,800 items to grocery stores, restaurants and national food distributors in the Midwest, the company is far more than just a food broker. Paris Brothers offers a full range of warehouse solutions including freezer, multi temperature cooler space and dry space. Additionally, Paris Brothers manufactures, markets and distributes 15 different private label brands and more than 300 specialty products.
The company also helps other food companies design and implement their own supply chain management plans. These services range from basic warehousing with online inventory management to full supply chain integration, including warehousing, inventory management, distribution and full integration as a third-party licensee.
Challenge: As Paris Brothers began experiencing explosive growth in 2000, it needed to find a location that could support expansion. But, as co-founder and principal Joe Paris explained, finding a facility that offered all the key elements the company needed wasn’t easy. Paris Brothers’ requirements included:
- a convenient location
- a clean, well-managed facility
- security 24/7, since many of their supply chain customers need after-hours and weekend access
- a climate-controlled and humidity-controlled environment
- access to significant freezer space
- flexibility for future expansion
- an affordable lease, including low utility costs
Solution: The company found all these things and more in Hunt Midwest SubTropolis, which is owned and operated by the family of legendary sports pioneer, Lamar Hunt. Hunt Midwest’s mining company began extracting limestone out of SubTropolis’ 1,100 acres in the 1940s. In the early 1960s, the company determined that the underground space created would be ideal for a business complex. Today, SubTropolis is the world’s largest underground business complex, housing more than 52 local, national and international businesses. Created through the mining of a 270-million-year-old limestone deposit, SubTropolis has over 5 million square feet of leasable space with room for another 8 million square feet.
The underground location is ideal for Paris Brothers due to SubTropolis having dry storage, multi temperature cooler space and freezer space operations all under one roof. SubTropolis is also home to two niche businesses operated by Paris Brothers: Paris Brothers Specialty Coffee Warehouse, which allows customers to bring specialty coffee closer to specialty roasters in the middle of the United States; and a “cave-aged” cheese operation in which Paris Brothers is using nature and tradition to help some of the best cheese makers in the United States to age new flavors into their world-class cheeses.
According to Joe Paris, “When we first moved into SubTropolis we had 110,000 square feet of space. Now – with approximately 100 employees and a significantly expanded array of products and services – we are their largest tenant with more than 430,000 square feet. We love it here because as our needs have grown, Hunt Midwest has been able to accommodate them. They have been a very good business partner.”
Paris continued, “Our two companies really complement each other. There is a real partnership, a real collaborative effort. We understand each other, which means they know what we need to run our business, and that allows us to focus on growing our business, not on managing our facility. They have even sent a couple of customers our way.”
Connie Kamps, director of real estate operations for Hunt Midwest, echoes the valued relationship with Paris Brothers. “One thing that was very important to Paris Brothers was the freezer space we could offer them.”
Kamps continued, “We have a 255,000 square foot freezer that is used partially by Paris Brothers and also by other tenants for storing a variety of perishables including poultry, meats, fruits, vegetables and pharmaceuticals. They began utilizing that immediately. Plus we could accommodate the space they needed for their own coolers, which they put in later (they now have three different multiple temperature coolers). Our ability to be flexible with those kinds of logistics is very important to them.” Inside the giant SubTropolis freezer, Paris Brothers stores everything from commodity foodstuffs for government contract distribution to ingredients for national foodservice companies.
“We are very happy with Hunt Midwest,” said Paris. “They provide a clean, safe facility and because it’s underground, it allows us to be more productive. It’s been a great fit.”
Key Benefits: SubTropolis is located in Kansas City, in the heart of the major north-south and east-west transportation corridors, saving customers both distribution time and costs. There are 300 truck lines serving SubTropolis, which includes street-level access that easily accommodates 18-wheelers. Trucks are loaded and unloaded inside of Paris Brothers, which is protected from the elements and exterior temperature fluctuations because of SubTropolis’ underground location. Less change in the environment yields more control over product quality, according to Paris.
The underground location enables Paris Brothers to benefit from the earth’s natural permafrost, which is defined on the basis of temperature, as soil or rock that remains below 0°C throughout the year, and forms when the ground cools sufficiently in winter to produce a frozen layer that persists throughout the following summer.
“We are more of a fail-safe operation – temperature control with earth backup,” said Paris. “Although we have back-up UPS (uninterrupted power source) power in the event that power is lost, the cool down period underground is extremely slow because the earth insulates our cooler and freezer space.”
Paris Brothers Specialty Coffee Warehouse | As Joe Paris will tell you, it’s important to be open to new business opportunities that might cross your path, as long as they fit within your company’s core competencies. One of the opportunities that presented itself to Paris Brothers was the business of offering centralized green coffee warehousing to bring specialty coffee closer to specialty roasters in the middle of the United States.
“The three things raw coffee needs to stay fresh are low light, stable temperatures and humidity control,” said Joe Paris. “So, Paris Brothers’ underground location at SubTropolis is perfect. We’re able to provide customers a good location for efficient distribution throughout the United States and ensure that their product will be its finest with our temperature-controlled facility.”
It’s important to note that Paris Brothers Specialty Coffee Warehouse is the only Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA) organic certified underground coffee storage facility in the United States. OCIA International is a nonprofit, member-owned, agricultural organization that is dedicated to providing the highest quality organic certification services and access to global organic markets.
Cave-Aged Cheese | As the specialty food experts at Paris Brothers were exploring new artisan food opportunities, the idea of artisan cheeses seemed to make a lot of sense. After all, the naturally climate-controlled environment in SubTropolis was ideal for aging cheeses.
According to Joe Paris, “The aging of cheese underground in SubTropolis – which some like to call a “cave” – helps to revive flavors that can be lost using a more modern, refrigerated aging process.”
Paris adds, “We are fortunate to have a natural aging environment at SubTropolis. But in addition, our cheese experts create smaller custom environments conducive to the needs of the individual artisan cheeses. It allows cheese makers to truly craft the flavor, intensity and richness they desire in their products. The length of time a cheese ages depends on the variety of the individual cheese and the desired end result; some as little as eight months and others are stored for up to three years.”
In total, Paris Brothers carries more than 400 specialty cheese items from California, Wisconsin and Vermont, and from other high-end artisan farmers from across the country. They supply a number of specialty grocers including Dean and Deluca.
Parisi Coffee | As Paris Brothers’ coffee warehouse business experienced rapid growth, the company decided to open two Parisi Artisan Coffee shops in the Kansas City metro area, selling hand-crafted coffees directly to retail customers.
To ensure the quality of its retail coffees are indeed as fine as possible, Parisi Coffee looks to Pete Licata as its retail quality assurance manager. A world-class barista and coffee expert, Licata recently won the 2013 World Barista Championship in Melbourne, Australia. “We take our coffee very seriously,” said Paris. “And there’s no one better than Pete Licata to ensure that the quality of our coffee meets our retail customers’ demanding standards.”
If you would like to know more about SubTropolis, contact SubTropolis@HuntMidwest.com.
HuntMidwest.com | SubTropolis.com
SubTropolis is owned and operated by Hunt Midwest Real Estate Development, which has developed over 6,200 acres of commercial, retail, industrial and residential property. Hunt Midwest is owned by the Lamar Hunt family. The Hunt family business includes a diverse portfolio of entities involved in real estate, sports/media, energy/resources, private equity, and investments. In addition to Hunt Midwest, marquee entities include the Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bulls, United Center, Toyota Stadium and FC Dallas Soccer Club.